If you are a retailer or an e-tailer (commonly known as an e-commerce company), customer experience must be your top priority. Your website or the e-commerce portal is obviously the first touch for your customers. And you may have invested tons of time thinking and executing ideas. So that your consumers feel welcome when they first interact with your company. But is ERP equally important for your customer experience? And if so, what are the most critical retail ERP features?
Yes, ERP is equally critical to enable the customer experience. And the success of your ERP implementation will set the tone for the kind of experience you will be able to provide for your customers. The very first task would be to research the features you would need. Craft a plan, so it’s implemented the way you envision the future state of your operational processes. And how that would impact customer experience for your business. While you may want to get inspired by other retail businesses and how they use an ERP, you will still need to identify your unique processes and ensure that the ERP solution you select supports them.
ERP Features for Retailers
The majority of the ERP solutions available in the market would support the most common features out-of-the-box, required by retail companies. They are listed below for your reference:
- Accounts Receivable (AR)
- Accounts Payable (AP)
- General Ledger (GL)
- Cash Management
- Currency Management
- Multi-entity Accounting (If you have more than one location or entities)
- Tax Management
- Financial Reporting
- Inventory Management
- Warehouse Management
- Barcode Reading Capabilities
- Cycle and Physical Counting
- Sales Order Processing
- Purchase Order Processing
- Purchase Approvals
- Customer and Vendor Management
- Pricing and Discount Management
- Discount Approvals and Sales Commission
- Coupons, Promotions, and Loyalty Management
- Customer and Vendor Contracts
- Customer Notifications
- Order and Payment Status Portal
- Return Management
- Customer Service Portal
- E-commerce integration (if you sell over the web)
- POS integration (if you have a physical outlet)
- Marketing Automation Platform Integration
- CRM Integration
Critical Success Factors
Awareness of these standard features would help you identify the unique features, which typically are more important for your implementation, as well as prioritize your requirements so you have sufficient time to explore the features that matter most.
These unique features collectively are also called industry-specific features, which, as well as integration and ecosystem for your specific micro-industry, is what differentiates ERP products.
The standard features are what forms the foundation of your selection criteria as well as priorities.
Unless you have a very large IT team as well as a budget, uncommon for SME retailers, your least risky option would be to find an ERP product designed for retailers. Otherwise, you might not only fail to achieve your customer experience goals but also end up wasting your time and money.
We recommend the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time on the business-specific features while 20% on the core ERP features.
The standard features are what form the foundation of your selection criteria as well as priorities. However, once your executive team is aligned on the core features, you should be spending the most amount of time discussing the unique features during your evaluation process. We recommend the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time on the business-specific features while 20% on the core ERP features.
If you have negligible experience implementing an ERP, the evaluation process could feel overwhelming due to the steep learning curve, as well as because these purchases are expensive and risky. One way to ease the transition would be to understand how to prioritize and where to focus. Awareness of standard features is the first step of your ERP implementation journey.